AstraZeneca targets a ‘modest’ profit from COVID-19 vaccine

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AstraZeneca PLC (LSE:AZN) changed strategy for its Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine, saying it now intends to make a “modest” profit from sales of the jab as new orders are received.


It represents a departure from the drug giant’s previously stated stance as it rolled out initial batches of the life-saving injections, co-developed by the University of Oxford, on a not-for-profit basis.


Still, the change is unlikely to move the dial in the way COVID-19 sales have for Pfizer, which expects to book revenues of US$36bn from its inoculation.


The update was provided alongside third-quarter results in which AZN maintained guidance for the year.


It expects earnings to be in the US$5.05-US$5.50 a share range, while revenues are expected to grow by ‘a low twenties percentage’.


The forecast includes a contribution from the rare diseases business Alexion, bought in the summer for US$38bn, but will exclude the impact from sales of the COVID-19 vaccine.


For the year to date, revenues were ahead 32% at US$25.4bn while core earnings per share were US$3.59, up 22%.


AZN is currently seeing the fruit of the R&D investment made over the past decade with eight positive phase III results since June. The Alexion integration, meanwhile, is “progressing well”, the company said.


Shares in the company tumbled below 9,000 in early trading on Friday but just after midday were down 4% at 9,038p.

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